February 14, 2023

From the Rector…

Every year after the Super Bowl half-time show, my social media feed starts exploding with criticism. I’m not sure when this Super Bowl half-time hate first started—maybe the famous “wardrobe malfunction”—but it seems like that is our basic expectation of half-time now. It’s not that it is controversial, it is simply that it has become yet another issue upon which we feel the need to make a stance and complain about. This year was no exception.

Soon after Rhianna’s performance and those crazy platforms, my Facebook and Twitter feeds began complaining about the show. My first thought was, “Haters gotta hate.” And then it dawned on me that all those “haters” were also people who professed to be Christian. In that moment I realized how profoundly lost we truly are as a society and a culture. On Sunday mornings we can hear a message about being bearers of Good News and less than eight hours later, see a message of bad news being spread by those who call themselves Jesus followers.  This is not what Jesus would have his followers do.

To be a Christian is to be a bearer of Good News—that literally means we are to share a message of hope and possibility with others, not one of condemnation or complaint or frustration or negativity. Now don’t get me wrong, we can be frustrated and down on the world—but that is not the message we are called to share. There is enough negativity out there without us contributing to it. Our job as Christians is to offer a different way of looking at the world and that starts by pointing out the positives. 

Instead of contributing to the complaints and condemnation that society seems to take delight in, we are to remind people of the good even in the midst of the bad. That is not easy. People like to hold on to their negative energy. They surround themselves with it. They don’t appreciate when you point out the good things in the midst of their perceived Henny Penny lives. People will wear you down with their negativity—pointing out the next bad thing and the next until you have no energy left and find yourself facing either total surrender and agreeing just to get out of the conversation or retreating and avoidance as your only options. Neither option feels good.

We don’t have to be a Pollyanna about the world. But we can contribute to the joy by helping others see the good in things. Take Rhianna’s Super Bowl performance—the NFL, the country’s most elite sporting event, still values art enough to give 13 minutes commercial free to music and dance. Regardless of whether or not you are a Rhianna fan, she put on a show and gave it her all even though pregnant. She is not only a singer but a CEO and businesswomen worth $1.4 billion making her the youngest female self-made billionaire last year—which means this girl’s got moxie. Not to mention, the aerial escapades of that show had everyone’s attention—the stage set, costumes, and dance moves were simple and yet we couldn’t keep our eyes off it. Finally, Rhianna just sang a medley of her songs without agenda or political messaging—simply for the joy of singing—though maybe you might read those glass platforms as a ceiling that won’t hold her down and that power red suit surrounded by white as a woman who is unafraid to take control and, even with a baby bump, do her job with all eyes on her. 

I think when God looks at the world and sees us, he doesn’t grouse about all the things he doesn’t like about us. I think God is constantly looking for the good in us, even when he disagrees with what we are doing or saying or how we are behaving. If we are to be the bearers of Gospel, of Good News, we might start with trying to see the world the way God does; finding the joy and inspiration in the world around us especially in the face of other’s complaints and negativity. It’s not easy, love never is, but a great starting point is that old adage your mother and mine taught us when we were children, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” The starting point for some of us may well be just to be quiet and stop contributing to the noise of negativity in the world. For others it is to start speaking love, pointing out good even in the midst of darkness. 

Haters are always gonna hate—maybe that is because no one has ever modeled or taught them how to love. As Christians, our call is to spread love—to teach love. Speak good news to be good news.

Light and Life,